Divine Repose

I heard two very similar homilies during the first Week of Lent - one by an Episcopal priest - and the other by a Catholic lay deacon. 

Both acknowledged that a common question asked during this season is:

"What are you giving up for Lent?"

To which, both answered,


In the first case, the priest is a woman who is presently burdened by many situations - and very much part of the "sandwich generation," and all which that label entails and demands. In the latter case, the person in question is both father and grandfather to several.

The first homilist focused on letting go of control during Lent - and letting God take the reigns of her life, which she had tried so hard to steer, to no avail. And of course, we all know, that outcomes don't often yield the results we planned or imagined.

The second, spoke of a time for seeding and growing, and fostering new practices and traits to enrich our lives, such as the cultivation of greater compassion.

In between both homilies I visited a friend, who is a massage therapist, for our occasional trade, and exchange of massage and Reiki sessions. She too - a busy wife, mother, grandmother, and caretaker to her grandson - shared that she had not considered giving anything up, and resonated with her Episcopal pastor's sermon.

Years ago, when I was teaching theology in Catholic schools, I used to tell my students that Lent was not so much a time for giving up candy and other such things - but that it was a time to cultivate something much richer in our lives - something that would bear fruit in the end - such as praying more regularly, or working on a quality we wished to embody in our lives, like love and respect for those in need or those closest to us. Or, committing to a social justice issue. These would surely be more lasting in the long run.

Not that refraining from sweets or social media - or other such things is not a worthwhile practice, but they do not tend to last. And often, we fail after a couple of days, and then beat ourselves up for doing so.

What if - instead of giving something up, we chose to rest and let go of all our cares and concerns, embraced in Divine repose?

What if - we gave up trying to make things go our way - or have others see things as we do and just simply let go - and let God?

These would not be easy choices - but they would be worthwhile. They might begin to cement into place practices that would enrich our lives for many years to come - far beyond one Lenten season. We could even recommit to it in a subsequent year.

After all, are we not weary of beating ourselves down for all the missed marks of our lives?

This year, I simply want to let go and let God.

This year, I simply want to rest in the sweet embrace of Divine repose.


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